I was married to a foreigner. Just six months after our marriage, he went home and filed a divorce case against me. Eventually, the divorce was granted. He is now happily married to another Filipino woman. I was told that even though I was already divorced, I cannot remarry yet. I pity myself because my former husband has already remarried while I have to endure the thoughts that I cannot remarry. What course of action should I do so that I may be able to marry again?
Dear Ms. Jing,
A law is yet to be passed allowing divorce in the Philippines. But it does not follow that just because there is no law permitting the same, it cannot be recognized here. In cases of a mixed marriage between a Filipino and foreigner, where the latter validly obtained a divorce decree, which makes him/her eligible to remarry, the same may be recognized in the Philippines. This is explicitly provided by the Family Code of the Philippines, to wit:
“Art. 26. xxx
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.”
Before a divorce decree obtained abroad is recognized in the Philippines, it must first satisfy the conditions set forth by the aforesaid law. The marriage as contemplated by law must be between a Filipino citizen and a citizen of another country, that it was the latter who obtained the divorce decree and that this made him/her eligible to remarry according to their law. The recognition may be done through a Petition for Judicial Recognition of a Foreign Judgment. Once the court grants the petition, this will make the Filipino spouse eligible to remarry.
The reason behind the said law was discussed by the Supreme Court in the case of Minoru Fujiki vs. Maria Paz Galela Marinay (G.R. No. 196049, June 26, 2013) in this wise:
“Article 26 of the Family Code confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts to extend the effect of a foreign divorce decree to a Filipino spouse without undergoing trial to determine the validity of the dissolution of the marriage. xxx In Republic v. Orbecido, this Court recognized the legislative intent of the second paragraph of Article 26 which is “to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse” under the laws of his or her country. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code only authorizes Philippine courts to adopt the effects of a foreign divorce decree precisely because the Philippines does not allow divorce. Philippine courts cannot try the case on the merits because it is tantamount to trying a case for divorce.
The second paragraph of Article 26 is only a corrective measure to address the anomaly that results from a marriage between a Filipino, whose laws do not allow divorce, and a foreign citizen, whose laws allow divorce. The anomaly consists in the Filipino spouse being tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry under the laws of his or her country. The correction is made by extending in the Philippines the effect of the foreign divorce decree, which is already effective in the country where it was rendered. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code is based on this Court’s decision in Van Dorn v. Romillo http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2013/jun2013/gr_196049_2013.html – fnt90 which declared that the Filipino spouse “should not be discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served.””
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org